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Arequipa, Peru

Toro Muerto

Thousands of volcanic rocks carved 1,000 years ago. 

A collection of ancient petroglyphs in the Peruvian coastal desert, Toro Muerto is thought to date back more than 1,000 years. Located in the Arequipa region in Peru, the site, a popular tourist destination at almost any time, is made up of somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 volcanic rocks, products of the explosive volcanic eruptions of Coropuna and of Chachani about 50 million years ago.

It is believed that the petroglyphs, which showcase humans, animals (elk, snakes, llamas, deer, parrots), plants, and many other designs (geometric motifs, sun discs, etc.), are remains from the Huari and Chuquibamba cultures.

There are several travel companies in the area that offer tours of the area. While the tours all will require a fair bit of hiking and outdoor exertion, there are so many offered, from the most bare bones to excursions that include air-conditioned transportation and alcoholic beverages, that there’s sure to be something for just about everyone. Tours often take visitors through the desert zone, which is filled with Arequipa’s volcanoes, and include lunch in nearby villages famous for seafood from the coastal waters.